Ahead of the fourth ODI against New Zealand in Hamilton, India’s fielding coach R Sridhar said that dead rubbers would help the side utilise their bench players, who would be given some game-time and also praised ‘one of the best fielders’ Hardik Pandya on his return. India have already sealed the five-match series 3-0.
Sridhar was all praise for Pandya, who made a return from provisional suspension after his controversial comments on a TV chat show. Sridhar was quoted by cricbuzz as saying, “No one was more keen than Hardik Pandya to play that game. He’s been working very hard during the time he got back home and the kind of energy he brought into the team, the desperation he brought was magnificent to see. He’s always been a good fielder. He was just dying to get into the thick of things and be a part of this and get back to what he loves doing, that is to play cricket and play it best he can.”
“That catch – he made a very difficult catch look easy. By no means an easy catch and then also the fact that it was Kane Williamson’s catch; the extra pressure of one of the best batsmen in the world. I think that was a turning point. I would say piece of magic from Hardik Pandya. He’s known for that. He’s one of the best fielders as we have in the country. If you also notice, he hit the stumps on quite a few occasions in his comeback match, which was very pleasing to see,” he added.
India are just seven matches away from the World Cup 2019 and on the eve of the fourth ODI, Sridhar said, “Winning is a habit which we would obviously want to continue. When you’re one-up or three-up against a team, you want to continue with the form; you want to don’t want to let down the intensity. At the same time, we also need to give game-time to our reserves.”
“There’s just seven games remaining for us before we play our first World Cup game. We should not end up in a situation where the main eleven has played and the reserves have not got enough game time, and then suddenly they have to play an important crucial game in the World Cup,” Sridhar said.
“And that is what we would like to achieve from the remaining two games in this series and no better place than New Zealand to simulate the conditions in England in June.”
On India’s recent International performance, Sridhar said, “We are playing some good cricket more the last few months, especially with the white ball. I think all the pieces are falling together. If you see the team, it’s quite an experienced unit. The top six have all been there right from the 2013 Champions Trophy. So fitness levels are really gone up with a trainer Basu Shankar working very hard. And the kind of effort our bowling coach Arun has put in with the bowlers – that’s what really stands out.
With eyes on the upcoming World Cup, Sridhar added, “The experience of the team combined with the kind of fitness levels, and the bowling which has gone about ten notches higher is making it look like a complete unit. Augers very well for the World Cup.”